Roger Federer has been feted by plenty of ovations at Wimbledon’s Centre Court. None quite like this one, though. This was not a celebration and didn’t come at the end of the match.
Instead, it delayed the beginning of what turned out to be the last game of his quarterfinal loss and felt more like a “thank you” or — just in case — a “goodbye.” And Federer acknowledged afterward he isn’t sure whether he’ll be back.
The eight-time champion at the All England Club bowed out 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-0 against 14th-seeded Hubert Hurkacz of Poland on Wednesday, a surprisingly lopsided finish to Federer’s 22nd appearance in the tournament.
Asked whether it also might have been his last appearance here, he replied: “I don’t know. I really don’t know. I’ve got to regroup.”
As for whether retirement is an immediate possibility, he offered this: “No, I hope not. … The goal is to play, of course.”
That likely was on thousands of minds in the stadium when Federer stepped to the baseline to serve while trailing 5-0 in the third set: He waited while fans in the full-to-capacity stands applauded and cheered, some rising to their feet.
Soon enough, it was over, only the third shutout set ceded by Federer in 429 career Grand Slam matches; both of the others came at the French Open.
“The last few games, obviously, you can feel that you’re not coming back from it,” said Federer, who spoke steadily and did not betray any emotion in his news conference. “I’m not used to that kind of situation, obviously, very much. Especially not here.”